University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name ACLU v. NSA NS-NY-0022
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-08936 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Foreign Targeting (702, 703, 704)
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On November 11, 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union and its Foundation filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking the processing and release of agency records from the National Security Agency (NSA), ... read more >
On November 11, 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union and its Foundation filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking the processing and release of agency records from the National Security Agency (NSA), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants failed to respond to the plaintiffs’ FOIA Request submitted on September 14, 2016, which sought records containing information on the government’s warrantless surveillance programs operated under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The plaintiffs sought an injunction requiring the defendants to process the request immediately and an order enjoining the defendants from assessing fees for this processing. The plaintiffs also requested attorneys’ fees.

Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that because Congress was considering whether to reauthorize Section 702 when it expired in 2017, the timely disclosure of these records was critical to the public debate about the authority’s lawfulness. Therefore, the plaintiff sought information about the breadth of Section 702 surveillance and its policies and procedures, including the number of communications involving Americans that were subject to surveillance and rules setting the bounds of the surveillance. The plaintiffs specifically requested each individual agency’s current targeting procedures and minimization procedures addressing Section 702 surveillance and its use to investigate or prosecute individual Americans.

On January 13, 2017, the defendants filed an answer to the complaint admitting that they had not completed review of the plaintiffs' request but denying that the plaintiffs were entitled to relief. The defendants asserted that they had exercised due diligence in processing the request and that exceptional circumstances necessitated additional time to process it. Alternatively, the defendants argued that the information requested was exempt in whole or in part under FOIA, and that the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the request for relief exceeding FOIA's statutory relief.

On February 8, 2017, Richard M. Berman ordered the defendants to search for, process, and release non-exempt documents and set required release dates. As of September 17, 2017, the defendants had completed their production of partially or fully non-exempt documents in response to the plaintiff’s FOIA request. The parties then began settlement negotiations that involved the plaintiff’s request for attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.

On December 11, 2017, Judge Berman dismissed this case with prejudice due to a settlement agreement. NSA agreed to pay the plaintiff $11,000; CIA $6,500; National Security Division $6,500; FBI $6,500; and ODNI $4,500. The settlement amount totaled $35,000. The court retained jurisdiction over any issues relating to this order, but the case is now closed.

Sichun Liu - 05/23/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Records Disclosure
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) Central Intelligence Agency
National Security Agency
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
United States Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description American Civil Liberties Union
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2016
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:16-cv-08936-RMB (S.D.N.Y.)
NS-NY-0022-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
NS-NY-0022-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/17/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation an Order of Settlement and Dismissal [ECF# 51] (S.D.N.Y.)
NS-NY-0022-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Berman, Richard M. (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
NS-NY-0022-0002 | NS-NY-0022-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Diakun, Anna Natalia (New York) show/hide docs
NS-NY-0022-0002 | NS-NY-0022-9001
Gorski, Ashley (New York) show/hide docs
NS-NY-0022-0001 | NS-NY-0022-0002 | NS-NY-0022-9001
Toomey, Patrick Christopher (New York) show/hide docs
NS-NY-0022-0001 | NS-NY-0022-0002 | NS-NY-0022-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Jones, David S (New York) show/hide docs
NS-NY-0022-0002 | NS-NY-0022-9001
Onozawa, Tomoko (New York) show/hide docs
NS-NY-0022-0002 | NS-NY-0022-9001

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